Feb 22, 2019

Playhouse Square to Offer Sensory-Friendly Performance of Disney's The Lion King

Cleveland, OH – Playhouse Square will present a special performance of Disney’s THE LION KING for individuals with sensory sensitivities, autism spectrum disorders and other sensory, social and cognitive challenges or issues and their families on Saturday, August 31 at 1:30 p.m. This marks the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a touring Broadway show in Cleveland. Playhouse Square has previously presented sensory-friendly performances as part of the Children’s Theater Series presented by University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s.

Modeled after a successful performance of THE LION KING sponsored by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway and repeated in cities around the country such as Seattle, Las Vegas and Houston, Playhouse Square’s sensory-friendly experience provides a supportive environment for the audience. Slight adjustments to this full-length performance will be implemented. For example, jarring sounds will be reduced and strobe lights focused into the audience will be eliminated. House lights will remain on at a low level throughout the performance. Audience members can stand, move, talk and make noise, if needed. In addition, there will be quiet spaces and activity areas for families. Sensory objects including fidgets, earplugs and noise-canceling ear-muffs will be provided. Trained staff and volunteers will provide encouragement and assistance to guests.

“We want everyone to be able to experience the transformative power of live theater, especially with their families,” said President & COO Gina Vernaci.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own manipulatives, seat cushions, comfort objects and extra support items to the theater to use during the performance.

Tickets go on sale on February 22 at Playhouse Square’s official ticketing outlets: online at playhousesquare.org, at the Playhouse Square Ticket Office or by calling 216-241-6000. Orders for groups of 15 or more may be placed by calling 216-640-8600.


After 21 landmark years on Broadway, THE LION KING continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world. Since its premiere on November 13, 1997, 25 global productions have been seen by more than 95 million people. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING  has  made  theatrical  history  with  six  productions  worldwide  running  15  or  more  years. Performed in eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of THE LION KING can currently be seen on Broadway; London’s West End; Hamburg; Tokyo and Sapporo; Madrid; Scheveningen, Holland; Manila, Philippines; and on tour across North America, for a total of nine productions running concurrently across the globe. Having played over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, THE LION KING’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.

THE LION KING won six 1998 Tony Awards®: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical. THE LION KING has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

The show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success. The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor has in recent years supervised new productions of the show around the world.

The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the haunting ballad “Shadowland.”

The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. Other members of the creative team include: Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor) and Doc Zorthian (production supervisor). Anne Quart serves as co-producer.

Disney’s THE LION KING, on tour at Playhouse Square August 7 – September 1, 2019, is a Huntington Featured Performance.

For more information worldwide, visit LionKing.com.

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About Playhouse Square: The largest performing arts center in the country outside of New York, the not-for-profit Playhouse Square is Northeast Ohio’s destination for Broadway and more great entertainment. A thriving downtown neighborhood, residents, office workers and visitors can dine and relax at area restaurants or on U.S. Bank Plaza under the glow of the world’s largest outdoor chandelier – the GE Chandelier. Playhouse Square is a champion of arts education and downtown Cleveland, and proud to be the home of Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance, DANCECleveland, Great Lakes Theater and Tri-C JazzFest.